WWSP's "The Alternate Boot!"

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Crazy. Yes. No Doubt.

I'm reading "The Brothers Karamazov," considered by many to be one of the all time great novels. It is a time-trip. Not difficult to read. I read in bed, it's a great way to segue into sleep. I curl up in bed, crack open the book and sink into the world of those "crazy Russians."

Crazy. Humans are so crazy. I should know, I'm one of them, just as crazy as the rest. Why are we so crazy? We learn fairly early in life that we will die. All of our family and friends will die too.

That's pretty crazy-making.

Then there is the relentless nature of existence. Suffering. Pain. Crushed dreams. A battle just to survive. How to feed ourselves, where to rest our heads, how to make our way in a hostile, uncaring world?

We imagine Gods, and Devils, and Judgement, and Apocalypse, we conjure other worlds and realities, and try to reconcile it all. More crazy-making stuff.

We deal with big words and concepts like Responsibility, Guilt, Sin, Morality. We look to Grace, Humility, Love. We battle with Indifference, Hate, Cruelty.

Oh yeah there's also Murder, Genocide, Suicide, Bullets, Guns, Bombs, Wars, Climate Catastrophe. It's all quite overwhelming.

We are essentially crazy, but not only crazy. We wear Masks: Rational, Reasonable , Pratical,  Pragmatic, Optimistic. But we are all Emotional Hurricanes inside. There is a swirling madness in each one of us. As Adults, we are Corrupted, Damaged Children. Each and every one of us. Little Children living as best we can.

Crazy. Yes. No doubt. But not only crazy...

Saturday, December 14, 2019

"Rainbow Democracy!"

Sometimes it's hard to follow the thread of what's happening.

I am not afraid of people of color. I don't think "they" are gonna take over our country. I don't fear immigrants, all my friends and their friends are children of immigrants. I don't fear women, gays, young people, the "have nots." To me it is really hard to understand why some of my fellow citizens are afraid they are "losing their country." I guess they all watch Fox News, and they worry about the "invading" progressive hordes.

Of course, it's not "their country," it's "our country," a country of immigrants, a country consisting of a great, over-flowing melting pot of every race, creed, & color imaginable. Truly a "Rainbow Democracy." Walk the streets of New York, Chicago, L.A. The great, and grand experiment of a multi-cultural melting pot. A beautiful thing.

I am an "old white guy," who just doesn't understand these "old white guys" who are clinging to an old picture, clinging to a racist, xenophobic, misogynist, homophobic, world-view. They are like the old Stalinists, clinging to the days of Stalin. Hard to believe they are clinging so hard to a false, retrograde, immoral picture of reality.

What's just happened in the Judiciary Committee? Emptywheel explains: "A Diverse America Votes to Uphold the Constitution; A Largely Male White America Votes to Abrogate It."

Yes, this is easy. I throw in my lot with "diverse America." It's a wonderful place to live. We must win this battle. We must out-vote, out-work, out-hustle these "White Americans" who are willing to trash the constitution to cling to power. This is not for the faint of heart. But we must prevail. Save our beautiful dream. We can't let the voices of fear, of hate, of greed, of power for power's sake carry the day.

No man is above the law. A President is not a King. White people are not superior to anyone else. Let's  clear our heads of that retrograde idiocy. Let us welcome the Progressive future. It's a beautiful vision.

Friday, December 13, 2019

A Good Plan...

I am aligned with the Dali Lama: "We are all Human Beings, first." 

That is a good starting point. We all have a lot in common. Human: hearts, heads, bodies, spirits, energies.

After that things start to diverge. Different bodies. Different cultures, different families, different experiences, different education, different opportunities. Different minds, different shoes. Etc.

How to live with each other? I do believe we are all capable of "doing good" in the world. We also are all capable of "doing bad" in the world. Good actors amongst us. Bad actors amongst us. Not necessarily good or bad people. Good or bad intentions. Good or bad actions.

We are all responsible for all that we do. Maybe Jean Paul Sartre was correct, we are actually responsible for everything in the world. It's a heavy burden. Existential.

So much trouble in the world. So much pain and suffering. So many people divided by belief. So many people unable to agree on basic facts, or any kind of reality. You hope people can agree on facts, truth, some kind of shared reality, but then events prove this wrong over and over.

It's a very human dilemma.

It is disheartening. I am one of those folks who think that a change of consciousness can happen in the blink of an eye. I am hopeful. I do believe in truth, and that we can all decide together to build a better world. But I also realize that other people don't see things the way I see them. And they are willing to kill and commit atrocities to prove their point of view.

It is quite ugly.

What to do? Lean to the light Pilgrim. Try to avoid the darkness. Or if you live in darkness, remember there is light. Maybe it is simple: "There but for the grace of God, go I." And. "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." Old wisdom. Hard won wisdom.

Stand up. Stand out. Speak up. Damn the torpedos, the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, the pricks and kicks.

You don't have to accept some grand program. Live humbly, with grace, compassion, love, and hope for the best.  Lombardi told us: "When the going gets tough, the tough gets going." Seems like a good plan.

Thursday, December 12, 2019

"Child of the Revolution."

This is cross-posted at whitewolfsonicprinces.com - r&r diary 12.12.19



“My message is that we’ll be watching you.

“This is all wrong. I shouldn’t be up here. I should be back in school on the other side of the ocean. Yet you all come to us young people for hope. How dare you!

“You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words. And yet I’m one of the lucky ones. People are suffering. People are dying. Entire ecosystems are collapsing. We are in the beginning of a mass extinction, and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth. How dare you!

“For more than 30 years, the science has been crystal clear. How dare you continue to look away and come here saying that you’re doing enough, when the politics and solutions needed are still nowhere in sight

“You are failing us. But the young people are starting to understand your betrayal. The eyes of all future generations are upon you. And if you choose to fail us, I say: We will never forgive you.

“We will not let you get away with this. Right here, right now is where we draw the line. The world is waking up. And change is coming, whether you like it or not.

“Thank you.” – Greta Thunberg

Lately, we have been playing a new song called “Child of the Revolution.” We haven’t recorded it yet. Carla introduces the song by saying, “This is for Greta Thunberg.” Carla wrote the lyrics for Greta, and for Greta’s campaign to tackle the looming threat of complete climate catastrophe.

We need a revolution in the head, a change of consciousness, we need to act now to save the ecosystem that supports life on the planet. Greta has stood up, stood out, spoken with deep conviction and hard-edged eloquence. She is such a hero. Courageous, inspiring. We need more Gretas, we need millions of Gretas all around the globe.

Carla sings, “Can the prayers of the day, show a little mercy? Our prayers are with you, always with you, Child of the Revolution.”

Praying, singing, changing the way we think about the world, acting decisively, taking care of the air, the trees, the oceans, and all the pretty creatures; living with kindness, humility & grace. We need to give up our addictions to mindless consumption, fossil fuels, deforestation, factory farming, fast-food and the meat industry. We need to care for all that lives on the planet. That’s our clear mission. A change of consciousness, it can happen in an instant. We teeter on the precipice of doom. Now is the time. – Jammer

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Open Heart, Open Mind - Facts.

Reading the news of the day. Sometimes I just don't know what to think. So many competing narratives. So much bullshit. You realize there are folks trying hard to confuse us all. So many lies, so many liars, so many folks trying to muddy the waters. In times like this, best to keep an open mind, and open heart, to sift through the evidence, to test ideas, to question theories, to keep your bullshit detector on and ready to go. There are bad actors who see the advantage of keeping us all confused all the time. Disinformation, it's a political strategy. Take a breath. Clear your head. Sift through the B.S. Maybe grab another cup of coffee. We all have to be a bit like "Joe Friday," you know, "Just the facts, Ma'm." I believe in truth. I believe in facts. I do believe we can make it through. Clear-headed.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Darkness & Light.

Cloudy winter-like days.

This is the time of year when you learn degrees, grades of darkness. You awake to a kind of dull darkness, there are patches of light, or a faint lightness seeping around the edges, but the dullness predominates. Later in the day, it may lighten up a bit, but not for long, a deeper darkness descends. Think pitch-black dark. These are days you learn about darkness.

The light comes from inside. What you know. What you think. What you decide to do. There are the beliefs, the dreams, the wonders you carry inside. There's an "inner light," illumination, a flame, or a flash-point in your solar plexus.

Darkness & Light. They are always dancing. Inside. Outside.

Monday, December 09, 2019

"Don't Be Denied." - Neil Young

You have be careful what you choose to listen to right before you go to sleep. The music stopped and then I read a few chapters of The Brothers Karamazov. And then, a long sleep. I tossed and turned. Neil Young's voice was ringing in the air around me, rattling around my head. He was insistent, persistent, persuasive. This morning I find the bed sheets twisted, the pillows bunched up. The bed looks like a war-zone, like there was major battle. What was that Neil Young phrase running thru my head all night long? "Don't Be Denied." 

Sunday, December 08, 2019

In the Moment Plan...

I was talking off the top of my head to my friend last night. I never know what's gonna come out of my mouth.

Me: "You know, I just need to always 'give it' to people. Open heart, give them love and validation. Always."

My friend: "You have always been like that."

Me: "Hah, maybe, but now I just think I have to do it more intentionally."

Note: This  always "giving it" to people is not some "saintly" thing, it may be from my need to be loved by everyone. I have learned that isn't possible. Still, sometimes I give too much, but it's a personality quirk, probably not a strength, but a weakness. The key is to give with a pure, needless intention.

Saturday, December 07, 2019

Yes, He is Orange, Not Pretty...

I think it has been obvious for much of this man's public life, that he is not very intelligent, he is incurious, prejudiced, he thinks he knows more than he knows. He is a World-Class Idiot of Epic Proportions. He is truly a racist, misogynist, toxic clown, a blight on the nation, the world. It's a true debacle and embarrassment that he stumbled into the Presidency. Funny. The GOP thinks he's doing just fine.

What the Fuck? Really.

Someone sent me this paragraph of our President's latest brain gook this a.m. The headline: Ladies and Gentlemen, Here's Your President.

Let me editorialize for a moment. I am a bit tired about writing about this fucking idiot. So many words, brain-cells, time wasted on such a fucking black hole void of a being. Still, you can't make this shit up. Think of our greatest novelists, playwrights, satirists: Vonnegut, Heller, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Nabokov, Shakespeare, Shepard, Dostoyevsky, Beckett, Ionesco. None can match this fucking word salad coming out of this man's mouth.

Oh my Lord... this man's mind is total fucking mush... ok, I mean, he did say something truthful... yes, he is Orange... not pretty.


Friday, December 06, 2019

So Suggestible.

Yeah. This is how things work in my life. I start reading Dostoyevsky, and then everywhere I turn, there's Dostoyevsky. For instance, Brain Pickings has a morning post about him. Never fails. I've also started wearing my "Russian style" hat. I just picked it up, put it on unconsciously. My friend took one look and said, "Russian." Yes. I am so suggestible. And there are invisible strings connecting everything in the Universe. That's what they say.

I'm thinking of having borscht for lunch. Hah!

Dostoyevsky faced the firing squad, he looked into the abyss of an early death by execution, and then was pardoned and sent to Siberia. Reborn. In a letter to his brother, Dostoyevsky pours his heart out, and his new born knowledge:

"Brother! I’m not despondent and I haven’t lost heart. Life is everywhere, life is in us ourselves, not outside. There will be people by my side, and to be a human being among people and to remain one forever, no matter in what circumstances, not to grow despondent and not to lose heart — that’s what life is all about, that’s its task. I have come to recognize that. The idea has entered my flesh and blood… The head that created, lived the higher life of art, that recognized and grew accustomed to the higher demands of the spirit, that head has already been cut from my shoulders… But there remain in me a heart and the same flesh and blood that can also love, and suffer, and pity, and remember, and that’s life, too!"-  F.D.

Thursday, December 05, 2019

Life. For the Living.

You just need to put your head down, and live.

I mean, stand up, stand out, speak up, be all you can be. Totally inhabit your body. Be awake, aware, alive. To the maximum. Be ready to be challenged, be ready to be disappointed, to be attacked, dismissed, laughed at, poked and prodded, whatever. Damn the torpedos. Those torpedos will come. Damn them.

There are reasons to live. You must power through. Just because. Life, likes life. Maybe you won't figure it all out. Maybe you won't know all the reasons, maybe there will be great mysteries surrounding you. It's ok.

Life. It's for the living.

Wednesday, December 04, 2019

Same Heart, Same Soul.

Yes. It is instructive. Go back to a text, a novel from 1880, written by one of the great, world-famous  novelists. Time-trip to a time before phones, computers, cars, airplanes, TVs, movie theaters. A time before the great World Wars. Before Stalin, Hitler, FDR, Lenin. Before Vietnam, Iraq, Kardashians. Before Warhol, Picasso, Mao, Elvis, Beatles, Dylan, bell-bottoms. Before Summer of Love and the apotheosis of Pop Culture. Before 9/11 and the Holocaust.

Burn off all that hoo-hah. Eliminate all that 20th and 21st century hurly-burly. Go back. Distill it down. To another time and place. What are you left with? Human Beings. Living. Thinking. Loving. Hating. Suffering. Dying. Dealing with unimaginable tragedies at every turn. Staring into the dark abyss. Looking for answers. Reaching to skies, worried about the flames of Hell.

Folks asking, wondering, How to Live? What to believe? What is best? What is worst? What the Fuck?!

It's all pretty compelling.

You know these people. You live with people just like these people. Their problems are your problems. Their questions are your questions. We think we have progressed, evolved, and it's true, certainly our technology has branched off in so many ways, so many more toys and diversions. Lots more hurly-burly.

And there are no so many more of us. And we are crowding into each other. Connected globally 24/7. And we are burning up our beautiful little blue planet. Destroying habitats and ecosystems, and species at an alarming, accelerating rate. Pushing against the bounds of health and sanity.

So new problems, new worries, new unimaginable tragedies. But the same questions today: How to live, what to believe, what is best, what is worst, what the fuck?! The same human heart, the same human soul. The same pain, suffering, tragedy, death, uncertainty.

We want and need answers. Always asking, always searching, always praying, looking to a new day, a new way. Human.

Tuesday, December 03, 2019

The Prayer of Release...


From Interview magazine, the great actor Anthony Hopkins speaking with Brad Pitt: 

"I once asked a Jesuit priest, 'What is the shortest prayer in the world?' He said, 'Fuck it.' It's the prayer of release. Just say 'Fuck it.' None of it is important. The important thing is to enjoy life as it is. Your life today, it’s fantastic."

"Fuck it" was also the official motto of the now dead and gone The Abbie Hoffman Died for Your Sins Festival.  Fuck it, a short, multi-purpose prayer. Keep it close to your heart, and in your tool-box at all times.

Monday, December 02, 2019

Monday Morning Questions...

My long-time friend, companion, co-conspirator, she knows me about as well as anyone on the planet, walks into the kitchen while I am opening the aspirin bottle, I accidentally drop it on the floor, and all the little pink tablets skitter across the tile. She watches as I scoop them up and put them back in the bottle, I slip one into my mouth too. We silently decide to just forget those tablets landed on the floor. Co-conspirators.

My friend asks: "Why are you the way you are?"

I think for a moment and reply: "I don't rightly know."

It's true. I don't. I do think we are all here to figure that out. Why are we the way we are? And what are we gonna do about it? How will we occupy ourselves while we are here? Big questions for an early Monday morning.

I think back to yesterday, Sunday afternoon, laying on the couch with my headphones on. A mix of CDs on the box, on random play. I actually fell asleep in the middle of Neil Young and Crazy Horse blasting thru an epic version of "Fucking Up," on their live disc "Weld." How is it possible? To fall asleep during that bravura, sonic assault? I don't rightly know. I woke up somewhere towards the end of the song, I too was stupefied. It was just a brief episode of unconsciousness maybe 7 mins or so, but still, dozing off during that crazy mayhem? Prophetic? And "Why Do I?"

Existential. Essential. Questions. Monday. Morning. WTF?!

Sunday, December 01, 2019

Into the Now.

A post-Thanksgiving holiday meal at the Asian restaurant. The fortune cookie tells me: "You don't worry about the Future." It's true. I don't. I think the future is unwritten, and basically doesn't really exist. We can imagine it. but really, this moment is it. This might be a flaw in my thinking. I don't really plan for the future either. So when I get there, hell, I don't know if I'll be prepared or not. Probably not. I figure I will cross that bridge when I get to it.

Lately, I have been swimming in the past. As the saying goes, "you may be through with the past, but the past isn't through with you." Right. Musically, I am back to my favorite go-to artists: Dylan (of course) and Neil Young, both solo and with Crazy Horse. I am swimming in music from the 70's, 80's & 90's. I also watched Jim Jarmusch's great movie "Year of the Horse" (1997) a couple times over the last few days.

This music, these artists are in my bones. My DNA. Two of the finest artists of our lifetimes. The Jarmusch movie is transcendent. Watch Neil Young become a wild stallion on stage. Watch 4 musicians become one powerful, overwhelming, ragged and raging vibe. It is fabulous.

I am also reading an old novel, one that I initially read in my early 20's. Going back. I look at my library and realize I have forgotten so much more than I have ever learned. I am about 20 pages or so into a fat book: Fyodor Dostoevsky's "The Brothers Karamazov" (1880). I remember that it was a profound novel, about big and great things. I am only about 20 pages into it now, and I realize it's also really, really funny.

Huh. I don't remember it being funny. But I was laughing at the boisterous, debauched father. I realize I don't know what I know. I don't remember what I used to know. Maybe re-visiting is essential. That's where I am at right now. Swimming in the past. Bringing it forward into the now.

Saturday, November 30, 2019

21st Century Druid Music.

This is cross-posted at whitewolfsonicprincess.com

Chalk it up to the Fomorians.
We played the Montrose Saloon last night. A late-night, Black Friday show at one of Chicago’s funkiest, friendliest, music-meccas. We were on a bill with acoustic opener Rollo Time and one of our favorite bands Flapunco – think flamenco inspired shredding/Led Zepplin-like/Dark-Cabaret/Punky-Rock/Power Trio fronted by Freddy Krueger’s Daughter. Freaky-cool.
We played last. Our 7 piece band over-flowed across the stage. We have a big, nuanced, layered sound, maybe too much for that little stage. Lots of sound issues. Feedback, weird over-tones, at one point the vocal mics died.
Chalk it up to the Fomorians. Our favorite Shamanic Practioner, Joan Levergood was in the audience, she had past battles with those freaky beings, and well, we surmised that those ancient Irish creatures, “hostile and monstrous beings from under the sea or the earth” came out on Black Friday to mess with us. Shopping be damned!
It was an intense and frustrating show. You can’t expect perfection, but you do always see it out there dangling in the golden abyss. The highlight of the night? An audience member who usually exclusively listens to classical music, sat through our set and really took it to heart. Afterwards he remarked our music was “21st Century Druid Music.” What to say? Yes. Fabulous. – Jammer

Friday, November 29, 2019

Damn the Torpedos, Pie!

Usually I eat for fuel. The essentials. The basics. Usually one meal a day. Don't want to overdo it. I am careful of what I put in my body. Food is medicine. I do believe. Probably the most important medicine we put in our bodies. Look at the maladies of the human body, most of them can be traced back to a poor diet. Science now tells us we should be very aware of our biome, our "gut bacteria." There are millions of little critters living inside our digestive tract. They are our friends and allies. How we treat them, what we give to them for sustenance, is key to their survival, to their health, to their character and quantity. You are only as good as your colonies of bacteria. Might sound icky, but it's true. Much is riding on how all you take care of your gut bacteria. So, yes, I usually eat for fuel, not so much pleasure. I am careful about consuming too much sugar, fat, salt, I avoid meat. I am a vegetarian. I view not eating meat as good for me, for the planet, for all those pretty creatures trapped in the clutches and horrors of the meat industry, and those icky little creatures in my gut. This is a long-winded way of saying yesterday, was a celebration of food. Vegetables: potatoes (scalloped, mashed, sweet), Brussel sprouts, corn-bread stuffing, asparagus. 3 platefuls. It was glorious. Thanksgiving, indeed. And then, an act of pure pleasure: Apple/Cranberry pie. Oh my. I am hoping my gut bacteria were as pleased as my taste-buds. Who knows?! Anyway, damn the torpedoes. Pie!

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Thanksgiving 2019!

My life...

Thanksgiving Day 2019.  Living with two dogs, a boxer, and a little bug-like breed unknown, in a big old mansion by the lake. I am the caretaker, taking care. Turns out if you are nice to the doggies, feed them, take them on walks, give them treats, pat them on the head and ocassionally shout words of encouragement, they will be your loyal friend for life. Or at least, looks like a good bet they won't maul you and eat your sorry carcass when you have your guard down.

There's a lesson there.

Easy morning. Reading about politics. Our political foes are showing "willful resistance to the facts." Yes. That's not for my team. We want to know the facts. We want to root out the truth. And look it square in the eye. We want to know the truth, intimately, and damn the torpedoes.

I'm drinking a coffee brew I've never had before, "African Roots" - "complex & bright with exotic fruit." Yes. Add in a bit of oat milk and you have a potent, delicious, brew. It's got a kick, I can feel the adrenaline coursing through my body as I type these words onto this page. Coffee really is my drug of choice. It agrees with me. So glad I found it.

I have a delicious r&r soundtrack on the box this morning. Blasting music in this big old mansion on a fabulous, classic, old-style, stereo system. There are speakers located all over the place: living room, kitchen, entertainment room. It's glorious. The whole place is rocking & vibrating. It gives the place a whole different vibe.

Right now it's an odd, random, CD mix I'm spinning: Buffalo Springfield's "Again," Nick Cave's "Skeleton Tree," ("they told us our gods would outlive us, but they lied..."), Neil Young's "Harvest," ("searching for a heart of gold...),  & "Zuma" ("what a killer..."), and The Trees a British folk rock band (1969-1971). I just "discovered" them. I own two of The Trees albums. Both are fabulous. British freak-folk. A bit old English, a bit "prog-rock," a bit trippy and odd. You might think Fairport Convention, but really The Trees have their own unique vibe. Two guitar players, one acoustic, one electric, very nice, captivating, mesmerizing. Right now I have their 2nd disc in the mix: "On the Shore." I actually really love both of their records. One of the great "lost" bands. Seems they re-emerged and their records were re-released after a band name Gnarls Barkley sampled one of their songs.

The perfect soundtrack for a sort of gloomy morning. Nowhere to rush to this a.m. No sunshine, except the supernova blazing in my heart and head. I suppose that will have to do. An easy day today. Food, family, friends... furry, and otherwise.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Hair Travel.

Life is like a movie...

Talking to my friend on the phone this morning. It's a windy day here in the Heartland. My friend asked me: "What about air travel today?" I replied: "What about hair travel?" So windy. You just know your hair is gonna go a million ways at once.

Hair. It's a big topic. A major concern. A good hair day? A bad hair day? I am happy just to have hair. Even my good hair days are bad hair days, but having hair is good, better than no hair.

Why is that?

I don't know. I grew up thinking the long-hairs were the cool ones. The Hippies. The Freaks. Rock & Rollers always seemed to have hair. Of course, over the years, there have been some cool bald guys. I think of the basketball icon Michael Jordan. He made bald cool, for sure. Guys started shaving their heads.

But really, you know, Jordan is one of the exceptions. I try to imagine myself bald and it's not pretty. Cue ball. Hair. It's a hairy topic. I have almost always kept my hair long, thinking there's some mojo in those follicles. Probably not true, it's all just vanity, a little bit of madness.

In high school I had more hair on my head than any other boy in the whole school. I actually got kicked off the basketball team in my sophomore year because I wouldn't get my hair cut. I was a hair rebel. Funny. It turns out I wasn't very good at basketball, especially sophomore year, I was sort of short and pudgy, I didn't have growth spurt until Junior year, so really, the team, the coach didn't miss me. I disappeared into my own little world.

Hair, it actually seemed to help me be invisible. At least, I thought so. Most of my high school days I spent reading, playing guitar and trying to be invisible. Hiding behind long clumps of hair.

My life, the movie: Hair Travel. Travels in Hair.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Don't Forget Soul

Soul. You know, "the immaterial essence, animating principle, or actuating cause of an individual life."

Soul. Don't forget Soul. It's another one of those invisible essential essences, one which we often forget, overlook or pretend doesn't exist.

Soul.

I came across this Alice Walker quote, while I was looking for something else, it's from a letter she wrote to Barack Obama when he became President in 2008. It seems appropriate and of the moment now, too.

"I would advise you to remember that you did not create the disaster that the world is experiencing, and you alone are not responsible for bringing the world back to balance. A primary responsibility that you do have, however, is to cultivate happiness in your own life…

Because, finally, it is the soul that must be preserved, if one is to remain a credible leader. All else might be lost; but when the soul dies, the connection to earth, to peoples, to animals, to rivers, to mountain ranges, purple and majestic, also dies. And your smile, with which we watch you do gracious battle with unjust characterizations, distortions and lies, is that expression of healthy self-worth, spirit and soul, that, kept happy and free and relaxed, can find an answering smile in all of us, lighting our way, and brightening the world." -
Alice Walker

Monday, November 25, 2019

Show Up. Stand Up. Stand Out. Speak Up.

Show up.
Stand up.
Stand Out.
Speak Up.

Don't hide.
Don't give up.
Don't pass the buck.

Today.
This day.
This moment.

We can all
do our part
be responsible
be aware
be awake

The past can teach us
the future can beckon to us
the present is where we act.

We can live
with heart
love
soul.

Every day. Every moment of every day.
It's required.

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Stuttering...

I heard an interview with Atlantic writer John Hendrickson this morning on NPR. Hendrickson wrote this article about Joe Biden's stutter, and Joe's battles trying to "overcome" stuttering. Hendrickson is also a stutterer.

The article might make you re-think some of Joe's verbal stumbles. You could listen to the way Biden speaks, and the success he has had in politics, in a new way. Maybe Joe's story is really a story of triumph and overcoming, a story of disability and adversity, and powering thru? I think that's how I will think about it going forward.

"Biden regularly characterizes stuttering as “the best thing that ever happened” to him. “Stuttering gave me an insight I don’t think I ever would have had into other people’s pain,” he says."

I did want to mention, Hendrickson's interview destroyed me this a.m. His difficulty speaking on the public airwaves was so different and jarring. Not what we usually hear on radio. It reduced me to a pool of tears. I don't exactly know why it hit me so hard.

My heart blew wide open. Can't explain it. A huge well of sadness came flooding thru my body.

I cried like a baby this a.m. I was hit in the solar plexus. It is amazing how much we all take for granted. I have no problem speaking. I come from a long line of talkers. Words roll off my tongue easily and with volume; the gift of gab. I come from a long line of gifted gabbers.

Still, when I was a child growing up, I was painfully shy, I was shy as teenager too. Growing up with the Nuns in Catholic school was a terrifying thing, and I remember having real difficulty speaking in class, reading in public. Doing any kind of public speaking in a classroom or auditorium was a world-shaking, harrowing thing. Getting words out took effort. My shyness was a great source of embarrassment. It's funny at home, and in small groups I had no trouble speaking up. I was kind of a quick talking, smart-ass.

The shyness is something I kind of put behind me.  Or let's say I put in a compartment. Taking acting classes and doing theater really helped me over that hurdle.

Early in my life, I had a friend who had a terrible stutter. Maybe that was what was resonating this morning? I don't know. I do remember kids picking on other kids. I remember seeing kids being picked out from the crowd, being picked on for faults, flaws, disabilities. It is amazing how mean human beings can be to other human beings.

Anyway, tears. They flowed out of me like a river. Crying for my fellow human beings. Why can't we all be just little bit more gentle and kind to each other? Not one of us is perfect, and maybe our flaws are really some kind of badge of honor or courage? The flaws are what make us unique, and beautiful? Maybe our suffering makes us more open and forgiving and helpful to others who suffer too?

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Do You See What I See?

I must admit I lost a bit of my mojo yesterday morning when I realized that some of my fellow citizens just refuse to see what I see. I do believe in truth (see previous post), truth is not Democratic, or Republican, it's isn't left wing or right wing, it's just plain truth. Facts are facts. Sometimes it takes a bit of work to get to the basic facts, but it's not impossible, it's very doable and necessary.

So yes, obviously, the President abused the power of his public office for his own personal, partisan gain. Here in Illinois we have a long sordid history where Governors have done the same thing, both Democrat and Republican Governors who have abused their office for personal/partisan gain. Those Governors went to jail.

This is not hard. This is not confusing. This does not require believing some vast conspiracy. Our Little Baby Man President is guilty of high crimes and misdemeanors. He even released a summary of a call documenting his crimes. Indefensible.

Easy to see. Easy to understand. Next steps? Full-on Impeachment. That's the essential, necessary, and patriotic thing to do...

Friday, November 22, 2019

Believe in Truth!

I'm reading Timothy Snyder's little book: "On Tyranny - Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century."

Highly recommended.  Essential. Of the moment.

This rings loud and true this A.M.

Chapter 10: Believe in Truth.

"To abandon facts is to abandon freedom. If nothing is true, then no one can criticize power, because there is no basis upon which to do so. If nothing is true, all is spectacle. The biggest wallet pays for the most blinding lights."

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Gordon Sundland - Burning Down the House!

I live with a clairvoyant.

It's not easy. I went to "psychic" (actually a misnomer, let's say meditation and creative visualization), school too (I have a diploma somewhere around here), but my partner is an extraordinary spirit, uncommon. I would say she exceeds me in the clairvoyant realm.

Both of us do our best to stay grounded, to find our calm center, to practice meditation and to employ creative visualizations.  The goal is always clear-seeing.

Yesterday my clairvoyant friend woke up singing "Burning Down the House" from the Talking Heads. The perfect soundtrack for the day. This was before we tuned into the Public Impeachment Hearings to mainline the latest testimony. I am a longstanding political junkie.

We listened to million dollar donor to Trump, current U.N. Ambassador, Gordon Sundland burn down the house. Funny. He named names in a quid pro quo conspiracy.

Yes. Gordy's testimony was a bit squishy, he didn't remember everything you'd think he'd remember, and some of what he didn't remember is probably pretty damn damning, but what he did remember is pretty damn damning too.

What did he remember? There was an extortion/bribery racket going down. Yes, Trump and all his co-conspirators knew about it. Yes, it's plain as day our President abused his power for his own political purposes and gain.

How are the Impeachment Hearings going for the Democrats, for the Country? Just peachy!

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

The Living Narrative.

Narrative... a story or account of events, experiences, or the like, whether true or fictitious.

Yes.

What's the story, Morning Glory?

To understand our lives, and our place in the Universe, we need a working narrative. It can change, morph, grow, get confused, be complicated, be contradictory, etc. It can fold back on itself. Memories can be re-weaved.  So even our memories and experiences are up for re-interpretation and recasting. Still we always need an overall framework to explain events to ourselves and to others.

It's probably important to update the narrative often, to be willing to change, correct the story as new information, new events and new facts appear. It's okay, and maybe essential to revamp, renew, and rethink. Sometimes it's true there are times when, Everything We Know is Wrong...

Yes. A narrative. The greatest story ever told... each one of us is spinning and weaving the threads of a living narrative. Always.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Every Day.

Every day. An adventure. Each new day, untouched. Wonder what will happen today? Never really know. There are always little surprises along the way. What is the theme? A life. One step at a time.

We hold reality inside us, in our hearts and heads. There is the incoming, the outgoing. We are in the middle, a permeable container.

Breathe. Eat. Walk. Talk. Think. Dream.

Monday, November 18, 2019

Back to Basics.

It's Monday morning. Back to basics.

Clear-seeing.
Clarity.
Clear-headed-ness.

Music.
Love.
Laughter.

Spirit.
Love.
Mystery.

Truth.
Justice.
Facts.

Resilience.
Resourcefulness.
Stick-to-it-ive-ness

Fire.
Creativity.
Imagination.

Dreams.
Dreams.
Dreams.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

We Have Living To Do!

Some of my friends want to jump to the endpoint. They look at events unfolding and want to rush to the conclusion. I think it's a strategy they employ for not building up their Hopes, which they figure will be sadly and definitely crushed. So it's better to shoot Hope right in the middle of the heart, get to the messy and disappointing conclusion, drag Hope's sad carcass off to the wayside, bury her in a deep grave and move on.

Obviously if you jump far enough ahead in your thinking, you will be royally fucked...

The Universe is Expanding.
The Sun will eventually die, and all life on the planet will die.
You and everyone you know and love will die. Some of us will die early in our lives of horrible accidents, murders, & diseases.
The planet most likely will overheat, making things very dicey for Human Beings and all the other Species on this little blue planet.

Multiply the People, Multiply the Suffering.

It is a pessimistic view. But it is a viable survival strategy. A way to try to minimize the pain when things go bad. It is understandable. You could make a case that we are heading for disaster and there is no stopping the trajectory. You could make a case that human beings are foolish, ignorant, intolerant, selfish, greedy, corrupt, and they will always do the wrong thing.

Look at history. Look at today's newspaper. Look into your heart.

Alternatively, I say, well, shite, man, "The Future is Unwritten." Human Beings are fully capable of doing the good and right thing too. There are humans filled with Love, Grace, Hope, Good Feeling, Positive vibes. Creative, intelligent, vibrant, resilient, resourceful souls trying to muddle through. Human Beings looking to create a better day, a better way. A future.

Best not to look too far ahead. Stay in the present. What can done now? Can we live in this moment with Love, Heart, Compassion, Grace, Responsibility, Integrity, Kindness?

There are always surprises. The unexpected. The mysteries of the human heart and head. We don't know where this all goes. It's a battle. A chaotic, swirling mess. Hold on tight. I mean, whatever, man, Hope dies last. No sense jumping to the conclusion. We have living to do.

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Sometimes the Truth, and Facts Matter...

I checked the JimmyDumps archives, looks like this was my first post about Roger Stone. The tell was the Nixon tattoo on his back. Not subtle. Yesterday, the man, the provocateur, the "rat-fucker" and dirty trickster was found guilty on 7 counts. Remember Stone was the go-between Wikileaks and the Trump campaign. Remember Wikileaks was weaponizing emails stolen by Guccifer a Russian hacker, meant to help Trump's campaign cheat to win the 2016 election. Remember Stone is an expert liar, a man who has all along been lying to protect our deeply corrupt Little Baby Man President. Turns out sometimes the Truth Matters. Sometime Facts Matter. Sometimes Justice is rendered. Sometimes the bad actors amongst us have to face the consequences of their acts.

Friday, November 15, 2019

Maybe My Tube Can Be Re-Filled?

William Blake wrote: "Energy is Eternal Delight."

Energy. Is it infinitely renewable? I don't know. Life seems to be attracted to Life, and Life seems to find a way. Yesterday (see previous post) I wrote about Hope. This morning I wonder, is Hope infinitely renewable?

Life. It does seem like a miracle, but of course, it's also a slog. I always fall back on my favorite Vince Lombardi quote: "When the going gets tough, the tough get going."

It always does seem to get tough. We want to ride the vibe of Hope, Love, Energy, Good Feeling, but there is no denying there are other forces out there too: Despair, Hate, Torpor, Bad Blood.

It is a battle of Good vs Evil, Light vs Shadow, ETC.

I don't want to be a happy-go-lucky, naive Fool. I want to lean to the light, I want to carry Hope forward, I do want to work towards a Better Day, but I also know that there are folks, political, social movements, governments, shadowy groups of people who don't give a good goddamn for any of my Hopes and Dreams.

It's all a Mystery (another one of my go-to ideas). Energy. It flows inside and outside. Some days you feel like you can fly. Other days you feel like a tube of toothpaste, all squeezed out. How do we renew, recharge, refill ourselves with Hope, Love, And Good Feeling?

Beats me. We just trust the process. Maybe my tube can be refilled? I mean, yeah, for sure.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

"No Man is Above the Law Day!"

Yesterday was light work day for my partner and I. It was sort of a little bonus day. So cold and icy outside, we spent most of the day inside. We listened to music, we watched some movies, we watched (on-line) and listened (on the radio) to great chunks of the 1st Day of Public Impeachment Hearings.

It was a beautiful day.

What started as "Anything Can Happen Day," morphed into, "NO MAN IS ABOVE THE LAW DAY!" We had a little pizza party with our flock of little birdies.  Yes, we ordered a pizza with everything on it: mushrooms, onions, cheese, bribery, extortion, corrupt backchannel, abuse of power, & quid pro quo.

So, yes, it was a day of celebration. It was good to see a few Americans stand up for the Constitution & and Rule of Law. We have high hopes that facts, and truth will overwhelm spin, disinformation and the bad fog of raw power and partisanship. We don't know how this will all play out, I mean, who really knows? We don't know, the future is unwritten, but we aren't afraid to be hopeful and be positive. We are optimistic realists around here. Imagineers too.

We still live in a reality where truth and facts and laws matter. We can envision a better day, a better government, a better country, a more perfect union, a better future. Yes, we can.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

The Life of an Addict.

"Know thyself."  Classic Delphic Maxim.

Yes. I think it's a good idea. If we are to live a life of clarity, it's best to start with yourself. You will spend most of your time living with yourself, so you should know the landscape, the features, the flaws, the pitfalls, the contradictions. You also should be aware of your blind-spots. Know what you know, but know that you don't know.

I am an addict. I have an addictive personality. I have discipline, but if I drop my guard, that discipline goes right out the window. As Oscar Wilde once said, "I can resist anything, but temptation." When I see a homeless person on street, someone struggling with substance abuse issues, my first thought, after I drop a coin into their cup is: "There but for the grace of God, go I."

For instance, chocolate, okay, maybe not the most pernicious, debilitating substance, I love it, it agrees with me, but I can totally eliminate it from my life for long stretches. It may not be bad for me, but once I start, I am insatiable. Always wondering when I will get my next fix. Yesterday, my friend gave me a little chocolate monkey, fine Belgian chocolate, locally made, infused with some delectable cream, a little monkey so cute, friendly, and delicious. I ate it in two bites.

No harm, right? It totally lit me up. Seriously. I was soon jumping around the kitchen, animated, gesturing, speaking in tongues. One little chocolate monkey just lit me on fire. Crazy. And of course, I wanted more. If a box of chocolate monkeys was in my possession, I would have gladly eaten the whole thing in one go.

That's the life of an addict. Good thing there were no more monkeys. If you have an addictive personality, the key to survival, the key to a good life, is to choose your addictive substances very carefully. So heroin, or opioids, crystal meth, cocaine, whiskey, junk food are definitely poor choices.

Coffee. Yes. Coffee. That is the one substance I have convinced myself I can live with. For instance, this morning. I wake up, a slight cloud of despair over me, it's a cold morning, the deep freeze in the heartland, it's gonna be a dark and cold day, a darkness kind of enters me... then, well, I brew my coffee, I drink a few cups, and well, euphoria!

One pot. Just one. Oh yeah, and maybe later today one potent cup from the local coffeeshop. I can manage my addiction. Yes. I can.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Reality TV is Not Reality, etc.

"Propaganda, all is phony." - Bob Dylan

"The more I see the lies, the more I hate the lies." 

We are being swamped by the lies. It takes all your powers of concentration to stick to facts, to peel back the onion, to try to get basic truths. Opinions are not facts. Sean Illing explores "How Fake News Conquered the World."  Disinformation is destroying the public mind, flooding our collective consciousness with garbage. It is a strategy, a marketing ploy, and way to render us powerless and befuddled.

"It’s also exceptionally cynical. The point, Pomerantsev says, isn’t to sell an ideology or a vision of the future; it’s to tell people that “the truth is unknowable” and that the only way forward is “to follow a strong leader.” This new style has not entirely replaced the old 20th century model of propaganda, Pomerantsev says, but it’s becoming increasingly widespread.

The book, titled This is Not Propaganda, is a disturbing look into the world of spin doctors, political operatives, and digital strategists, basically all of the people working in the shadows of the information war. Pomerantsev’s background gives him a unique perspective into the modern political circus, which is increasingly indistinguishable from reality TV."

Monday, November 11, 2019

Don't Lead With Your Chin.

Turns out my flip-phone (see previous post), rose from the dead. My "communication space" is fine. Calls made, received, both sides of the conversation alive and well. Maybe the phone just needed to sleep? I took the battery out, blew into the microphone a couple times, and let it sit.

Turns out sleep is essential all around. Yesterday, I woke up "sucking on a lemon," hat-tip: Thom Yorke, went to sleep late, got up early, I was brittle all day. This morning, well-rested, full of vim and vigor. Transformed. Ready to take on the world.

It is a weird journey. Feelings swirling, a goddamn hurricane inside every damn day. I got a text message from a friend yesterday, she was looking for advice, she didn't put it like this, but, boiled down to it's essence, basically her question was: "Why are human beings such shits?" 

I had to laugh at the one. Yikes, I mean, sad, but true, the question totally answers itself: "Human Beings are shits, because, well, Humans are Human, and often Human Beings are shits." No surprise, right? I mean, are you awake? Check out the headlines in the newspaper, the TV, online, radio, etc.

Of course, Human Beings are not only shits. Sometimes they will surprise you. Sometimes you even can surprise yourself. Best advice: Just don't lead with your chin. Sleep well. Recharge. Connect. It's a big world out there, do your best to navigate through the shit and the shits, and remember, the future is unwritten. The new day is untouched!

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Voiceless.

"They" say there are no accidents. Who are they? You know, other people. For instance Deepok Chopra.

So I didn't accidentally drop my old flip-phone twice yesterday, and I didn't accidentally break the damn thing, it was not accidental that I find that I can dial up friends and relatives, I can hear them on the line, but they can't hear one damn word I say. It's all just hidden intention

I think this may be some kind of ideal situation for some folks who know me. They can talk all they want, they can regale me with stories, secrets, long rambling monologues, and well, I can't get in a word edgewise. I mean, I can babble all I want, but it all falls on deaf ears.

Voiceless. That's the hidden intention. What can I learn when I find my voice has no power, no ability to get across to another human being? Maybe there is some deep lesson here? Maybe it's time to just be intentionally quiet? Save my breath for other things? Maybe that breath is intended to fortify me for other things? Trashing my phone, what did I really intend, what does the day and the near future portend?

Saturday, November 09, 2019

Wake Up to the Signs and Wonders.


Yes. Unfortunately, I often forget, but I do believe, we all truly live in a world of signs and wonders. Often we are sleeping, sleep-walking through the day to day. Sometimes an image, an event, an insight, a song, a poem, a pebble in our path, makes us pull up, slaps us upside the head, shakes us awake. The mystery of life is all around us, it's like another realm, an invisible membrane, that floats above us, and surrounds us. Sometimes it leaks into the plain sight of day, sometimes it grabs us by the lapels and demands us to see.

This image from that amazing, illuminating, inspiring photographer, Michael Doubrava, is an example of one of those "signs and wonders" that changed the trajectory of my life, and changed the direction of the lives of a handful of significant folks that I know and work with. Funny. One strange, mysterious, luminous image on a t-shirt, it started a conversation which led to a cascading sequence of events, opened doors to new collaborators, new creative projects, new friendships, whole worlds of good work and creativity.

The direction of lives changed. Forever. Lots of great creative work ensued. It's funny to think that it was all so arbitrary, lucky, fortuitous.  A chance encounter. A casual conversation. A glimpse of the mystery. A creative shock. The world shook. Minds connected. And nothing was ever the same. So odd, and such a small moment, almost easy to forget or overlook.

Better to acknowledge the magic of the moment. Yes. Signs and wonders, they are around every corner, maybe even on the next t-shirt, the next blink of an eye. Open your eyes. It's easy. And essential.

Friday, November 08, 2019

Always Close to the "Creative Being."

What is it with my on-going Dylan obsession? I blame Paul Williams. His writing about Dylan is so eye-opening, inspiring, makes me see old albums with new eyes, opens my ears to records I sort of took for granted or overlooked the first time around. This morning I have "Planet Waves," "Street Legal," and "Infidels" on random play. Fabulous songs, great lyrics, superb bands, Dylan in fine voice, pretty much in his post-young-wunderkind-prime. I agree with Joan Baez, not everyone falls for Dylan, but if you do fall, you fall hard, really, really hard, and no other artist, no other body of work has the same bite, kick or resonance.

Williams sort of positions Dylan as an archetype, not just a man, a performer extraordinaire, and everything in his life is open to his creative self. Everything in his life is material, mulch, the fertile, luminous ground for poetry, imagery of heart, beauty, bitterness, sadness, fire, alchemy.

Dylan becomes the Magician, the Artist, the Poet, the Lover, the Evangelist, the Prophet, the Seer, the Fool, the Emperor, the Juggler, the Joker, the Alchemist, the Wicked Messenger, the Prodigal Son. Dylan is everything. A man, a twisted, flawed, brilliant, crusty, a curmudgeon of a human being. I sink into his work, into his vast catalog of songs and always emerge inspired, fired up.

I feel like Dylan helps me get in touch with my own "creative being." And really, that is the most important thing for me. To always be close to that creative spirit, to carry it with me through every day. Dylan's music is a doorway, a portal. Always open and ready to let me in.

Thursday, November 07, 2019

All That Is Gold Does Not Glitter.

Two posts ago I linked to an op-ed by Martin Scorsese, Art vs. Commerce. I take Marty's point, if you go to the big movie multiplex today all you will find are the big soulless theme park movies. Grand hollow spectacles. Art is nowhere to be seen. It must be confounding, disturbing and heart-breaking for a filmmaker like Scorsese who came of age when art films actually had the opportunity to find a mass audience. Commerce has swamped Art. No doubt.

I remember seeing some great "art films" at first-run movie houses, the audience totally packed to the rafters, films like "Magnolia," "Taxi-Driver," "The Deer Hunter," "Apocalypse Now," "Scarface," "The French Connection," "The Exorcist," "The Shining," "Eyes Wide Shut," "Boogie Nights," "The Godfather (both I and II).

Those movies were able to cut through and reach a wide audience. Nowadays those films would either not be made, or would be found streaming on Netflix or Amazon Prime. The movie business is a hard master.

But you know, Art will find a way. I also remember going to "art houses" to see movies by Robert Bresson, Ingmar Bergman, Werner Herzog, Jean Luc Godard, Louis Malle, Bernardo Bertolucci, David Lean, Francois Truffant, Orson Welles. These films had just as much an impact as any of the others. Often I saw these films in nearly-empty theaters, with students and other cranky, off-kilter souls like me.

So yes, Art vs. Commerce. In the multi-plex, Commerce is triumphant, but you know, Art will find a way. It's like water. The creative impulse, the creative spirit cannot be crushed. It's the same in the world of Music, or Theater, or Poetry. Folks will create, they will put work out into the world. And if you seek you will find. All that is Gold does not glitter.

Wednesday, November 06, 2019

Empty Vessel.

Nature abhors a void.
Clear a space
in your room
in your head
it will be filled.

It is good to clear
open the door
open the window
see what flies in
what scoots out.

Empty vessel
waiting for
the next thing.

Tuesday, November 05, 2019

Art vs. Commerce.

I liked the print edition headline better: "The Dying Art of Filmmaking."

I know exactly what Martin Scorsese is writing about. Scorsese and I come from a time when movies,  those shown on the big screen, were an "art form." "Cinema as an equal to literature or music or dance."

Theme Park spectacles have swamped the art movie.  No doubt. Check your local multiplex. How many damn Marvel super-hero movies can we stomach?

"For anyone who dreams of making movies or who is just starting out, the situation at this moment is brutal and inhospitable to art. And the act of simply writing these words fills me with terrible sadness." - Martin Scorsese

Monday, November 04, 2019

Beat a Drum, Close Your Eyes, Let the Visions Come...

Clarity. Lucidity. Clearness. Transparency.

So many resonances yesterday. The day after (see previous post), my night with the Shamans. I felt like an empty vessel. Cleared out. Opened.

The Poets and the Prophets, they follow their visions, they listen, and act, they embody new information. During the drum circle I envisioned an amazing scene. It seemed so real, but at the same time it was like a day-dream, I knew that I was in a room, banging on a drum, but at the same time I was in another realm with strange beings, in the midst of strange and momentous happenings.

How do I explain it to myself? I am a long-time meditator. I often do creative visualizations. So nothing strange or weird about conjuring up scenes in my head. Vivid, lucid, dreams. I know when I am awake in the world, and I know when I am in the middle of dream. The two realms do not bleed into each other.

So, no, it doesn't feel like madness. Just affirmation of my creative sensibility. It's the same force I use to write songs, or write plays, or dream, day-dream. I have always felt really close to my creative being. It's one of the strongest aspects of myself.

So yesterday, back to the "real world." Walking around in a familiar environment. But in a small way, everything was transformed. Everything was more real, more defined. Everything alive, full of possibility. Maybe it's always like that, but I noticed it. The world glowed around me. I seemed more defined too.

It's funny to be reminded that the mundane and extraordinary sit side by side at all times. There is the sacred and profane, the brilliant insight, the hair-brained idea, the sublime and ridiculous, the holy and the silly. Sometimes it's just a matter of degrees, a matter of perspective. These simple things can have maximal impact.

A small thing, a simple thing. Beat a drum, close your eyes, let the visions come. It's a trip, a journey. Momentous, but simple, mundane too.

Sunday, November 03, 2019

Hanging with the Shamans.

For the second year in a row we celebrated the Day of the Dead by hanging out in a roomful of Shamans. I wrote about last year's experience here.

This year, what to write? How to write about the unwritable? How to know the unknowable? The short answer, last night was a powerful, transcendent, inspiring event. It was an amazing experience.

I focused on the drum, on drumming , on being one with my drum. I became the drum. I could feel my body sort of melt away, and I was just the act of drumming. Pure motion. Pure sound. There is something powerful about completely "losing yourself" in the moment.  Hard to explain. Just one of those things to experience. The summing up pretty much misses the mark.

There was a journey, a healing; a community of musicians, seekers, healers and seers all converging, focusing their energy in one unified experience. Nothing quite like it. Sort of like a church service, but much more primitive, other-worldly.  I went to amazing places. Discovered amazing things. Really. I would love to tell you all about it, but I think the power of it all would diminish in the telling of the tale. Better just to embody the knowledge, the experience. It's deeper, more profound that way.

Saturday, November 02, 2019

Day of the Dead, 2019.

Yes. Today. November 2, 2019, The Day of the Dead. 

Just a note: You will be dead. We all will. Everyone we know and love, and everyone we don't know and don't love too. Many have come and gone before us, and (most likely), many will come and go after us. It's a bit daunting & humbling. Being human. Kind of puts us all in our place. No immortality. Living forever just doesn't seem to be in the cards.

We don't really know what death is, maybe we find out, maybe we don't, maybe it's just a grand mystery or maybe there will be some astonishing reveal. No sense in worrying about it, no sense in being afraid. It's natural. Part of the process.

I fall back on the idea that life is a mystery and death is a mystery too. There's a light in that mystery. We just don't know. Maybe death is just a reconstitution, a reincarnation, a transformation of energy? Everything is energy. Everything is connected. Everything is something else.

It's that kind of confusion and contradiction that frees me. What's it all about? Who knows? We are just human beings. We don't know. Maybe we can't know. We are born, live and die. Part of some grand cycle.

We walk into the movie theater. The movie has been playing for a long time, almost an eternity, and we will exit well before the movie finishes. We get to see what we get to see. We experience what we experience. And then... well... I suppose we will find out... or not...

Friday, November 01, 2019

We Need an Impossible Future


If we are going to save ourselves, our species, in the face of our own stupidity and greed, and the shredding of the life-giving ecosystem that supports human and all other life on the planet, we need some good ideas and pronto. We really need to think out of the box.

We need an Impossible Burger... we really, really do. "To dream the impossible dream." Turns out Pat Brown is the "Man of La Mancha." I highly recommend you read this article from the New Yorker, a few issues back: "Can A Burger Help Solve Climate Change?" Pat Brown - "A sixty-five-year-old emeritus professor of biochemistry at Stanford University, Brown is the founder and C.E.O. of Impossible Foods. By developing plant-based beef, chicken, pork, lamb, dairy, and fish, he intends to wipe out all animal agriculture and deep-sea fishing by 2035."

Fuck yeah. That's ambitious. A better burger. Not just a veggie burger. A burger that tastes like meat, better than meat, the best freaking burger you've ever eaten. Funny. I haven't actually eaten a hamburger since early in Ronald Reagan's Presidency. I'm pretty much a vegetarian, with a few lax carnivore episodes. Giving up meat has not been hard. I am shocked more folks aren't vegetarians. Seems like the healthier way to go. I mean, better for our bodies, better for our planet. Come on, folks, give it a try! Vegetables!

It is safe to say, we need more vegetarians on the planet. We need to eliminate meat, eliminate the meat industry as it stands. We need less cows. Less cow burps and farts. They are helping kill our ecosystem, we are mowing down our forests so those cows can graze. Insanity. Yes, really, I know it sounds silly, ridiculous. Our addiction to burgers, our addiction to fast food is helping destroy the interconnected web of life. Seems impossible. But it's true. We really do need the Impossible Burger. Have I eaten one? Not yet. But I plan on tracking one down soon. I am willing to sink my teeth into the impossible. I'll let you know how it goes, but really this is a great idea. Necessary.

Pat Brown could help save us from our own doomed madness. I wish him the best. We really do need an Impossible Burger. We need the Impossible. Go on, give it try. A better idea for a better world, and a real future.

Thursday, October 31, 2019

First Snow, Fall 2019...

Snow is falling here in the heartland.

I hear tell that in Washington D.C. the U.S. House of Representatives are voting for a resolution to lay the ground rules for impeachment of our Little Baby Man President this morning. It must be so disturbing for that big bully, really just a whiny, blow-hard coward, to finally be held account for his actions. Historic. Historians will write about it all in the history books. Are there still history books?

It's hard to remember what happened yesterday, last week, last month, etc.

Listening to Dylan (of course), right this moment he's singing Woody Guthrie's "The Land is Your Land." Should be our national anthem. Plain-spoken, beautiful, so American. Dylan sings it so well. The words resonate this a.m. This land where everyone is welcome, folks, immigrants from all walks of life, all creeds, colors and kinds. Diverse, multicultural. A rainbow of humanity.

The day of first snow, impeachment, accountability, truth & justice.  Snowflakes, they fall thru the air, settle on the ground. This land, this holy, beautiful land. We should take care of it, and take care of each other too. We really should.

This land is your land, this land is my land
From California to the New York island,
From the redwood forest to the Gulf Stream waters;
This land was made for you and me.

As I was walking that ribbon of highway
I saw above me that endless skyway;
I saw below me that golden valley;
This land was made for you and me.

I've roamed and rambled and I followed my footsteps
To the sparkling sands of her diamond deserts;
And all around me a voice was sounding;
This land was made for you and me.

When the sun came shining, and I was strolling,
And the wheat fields waving and the dust clouds rolling,
As the fog was lifting a voice was chanting:
This land was made for you and me.

As I went walking I saw a sign there,
And on the sign it said "No Trespassing."
But on the other side it didn't say nothing.
That side was made for you and me.

In the shadow of the steeple I saw my people,
By the relief office I seen my people;
As they stood there hungry, I stood there asking
Is this land made for you and me?

Nobody living can ever stop me,
As I go walking that freedom highway;
Nobody living can ever make me turn back
This land was made for you and me.

-- Woody Guthrie

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Young Dylan Already Death-Obsessed.

It's funny. My Dylan obsession is still in full force. I have been reading the great Paul Williams, (the father of rock criticism, the founder of Crawdaddy), and his Dylan performer series of books. No one writes about Dylan with more passion and authority than Paul Williams. He's a great writer, a man who devoted himself to Dylan with all his creative being. He makes you re-think and re-listen to tracks you may have missed, or dismissed. He brings incredible knowledge, strength and soul to the task. Williams makes clear that early on he considered Dylan one of the greatest artists of the 20th Century, standing toe to toe with Pablo Picasso. Williams makes a compelling case. Plus he's a kick to read, funny, engaged, loves music and the creative pursuit.

I started reading about Dylan's Gospel years 1979-1981, I was long horrified by Dylan's Christian-Born-Again period, but after reading Williams, and taking a deep dive into the music from Dylan's studio albums (Shot of Love, Saved, Slow Train Coming) and live recordings from those years, I  now consider that period one of Dylan's most passionate, creative and  dynamic eras. I then started working my way backwards in time. I am now in the early Dylan years.  Hanging out with the young, earnest, folk-troubadour, Dylan singing with an "Okie" accent, suffused in the classic folk & acoustic blues, deeply influenced by Woody Guthrie.

This morning I re-listened to Bob Dylan's first record released in 1962. Talk about the way-back machine. JFK was alive and still President. The first stirrings of the Civil Rights movement were percolating, the blossoming of r&r and the Summer of Love was in the distant future. Folk music was big in New York City, bigger than r&r. The Beatles and the Rolling Stones hadn't hit the shores of USA yet. Dylan, just a green kid from Minnesota with only two original compositions on the record.

I guess what's amazing, funny, and completely clear, Dylan was totally obsessed with songs about death. He was a peculiar, charismatic, death-haunted young man. The record is raw, powerful, no-frills, Dylan's unvarnished, untutored voice, already captivating. Bare-bones folk and acoustic blues. Death. The young man was thinking and singing about death an awful lot.

It funny, knowing what we know, to hear this young kid. We know he has a lot of living to do: writing, singing, performing and morphing into many different Dylans. There will be big civil rights anthems, voice of generation stuff, redefining r&r, opening hearts and heads to new meanings and methods. But first time out of the gate, he was already singing about the deep mystery of our lives. That young voice, speaking of Love, Loss, Death, Mystery. Essential listening.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

The Small Things...

The small things...

a smile
a vibe
a sparkle in the eye
a quiet moment
a hug
a long walk
a cup of java
the beat of a drum
one note
one word
a dream
a breath of fresh air
a hot bath
bubbles
a song
a lullaby
a fairy tale
a perfect truth
a moment of clarity
a blazing insight
an ounce of love

Monday, October 28, 2019

Oh Poor Little Baby Man, Where Did the Love Go?

I was going to post something spiritually inspiring this a.m. But then, I checked the news, and well, I just had to laugh out-loud, big belly-laughs this morning. Seems there is a World Series going on, and last night's game was in Washington D.C. and our Little Baby Man President and his entourage were in attendance. What happened when he was announced and his big, shit-eating mug was projected on the enormous Jumbotron?

Hah. Little Baby Man was booed by the crowd, greeted with an "Impeach Trump," sign, and chants of "Lock Him Up!" At the World Series? 

Now that is freaking HILARIOUS!!! :) Nice Monday morning gift!

Our Little Baby Man President has been running his own long-running Jerry Springer Show. Folks acting like idiots, making fun of people, jeering immigrants, liberals, women, people of color, poor folks. Last night was a bit of KARMA.  What happens when the Jerry Springer show goes off the rails? The big bad host becomes the object of derision? Not all those little folks?

This is America! We still get to jeer our leaders.  It's almost like jeering Stalin or something.  Of course, that didn't happen, the jeering of Stalin, or if it did, folks they ended up dead or in a Gulag in Siberia. Not here in America. We still have that freedom, the freedom to boo who we want to boo.  Oh poor Little Baby Man, where did the love go? 

Sunday, October 27, 2019

The Church of the Creative Seekers.

Biblical rains last night. We performed at a little storefront. It was pretty inspiring. A night of fairy tales, Shamanic journeys, a drum circle and a set of music from our band. A smaller crowd. The essential folks who figured that despite the rain, it was essential to be there. And it was really something. Powerful, inspiring, thrilling. You know, it's hard to sum up, it was a superb evening. We love being around other creative, searching, open, funny, intelligent, warm and welcoming folks. It's almost like Church. Maybe it really is a Church. The Church of the Creative Seekers. It's pretty open, free-form, improvisational. The only creed is be awake, be aware to the creative moment, and that moment of creation is always within reach, a blink of an eye away.

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Acting.

Acting. It's a profession. Pretending to be someone else. Acting "as if." It can be liberating. Taking on another persona.

It's also one of those "recovery"ideas. "Fake it till you Make it:" imitating confidence, competence, and an optimistic mindset, a person can realize those qualities in their real life.

Act like the thing you want to be. Of course, like everything, it has its limits. If you walk around acting like Napoleon they will probably put you away somewhere, feed you drugs, try to get you "back to reality."

Not feeling it? Act like you do feel it. Who knows, maybe you will feel it?

Friday, October 25, 2019

Wrapped in Mystery.

You think you have a handle on things, and then you read about Parallel Universes, and you realize you don't have a handle on anything at all.

"Now there's a "new" theory on the block, called the "many interacting worlds" hypothesis (MIW), and the idea is just as profound as it sounds. The theory suggests not only that parallel worlds exist, but that they interact with our world on the quantum level and are thus detectable. Though still speculative, the theory may help to finally explain some of the bizarre consequences inherent in quantum mechanics..."

Are those Scientists just messing with our heads? "Many interacting worlds..."

Yes, mystery. I always fall back on the mystery of our world, our lives. It increases the wonder, also sort of kicks open the door on consciousness. Maybe everything I know is wrong? Maybe what I think I know and perceive is partial, clouded, obscured?

Maybe there are hidden things, things I just can't perceive because I am a human being, stuck doing human being things? That's makes a sort of sense. So the poets and the mystics are right? We can't really figure it all out. Mystery reigns.

And maybe that's ok. I mean, it has to be ok. It's our lot, to be wrapped in mystery.

“How do you know but ev’ry Bird that cuts the airy way, Is an immense world of delight, clos’d by your senses five?” - William Blake

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Pray or Pay Homage. Or "You Gotta Serve Somebody." - B. Dylan

When the chips are down, where do you turn?

Some folks pray or pay homage to...

God
Big Pharma
The Divine Opioids
Nature
Love
Toys
Sex
Drugs
R&R
Power
Denial
Entertainment
Sports
Lombardi
Walking
Burying their heads in the sand
Buddha
Jesus
Mohammad
Kanye
Cheap Thrills
Old Books
Meditation
Creative Endeavor
Art
Music
Beatles
Dance
Drumming
Coffee
Coffee Bar
Hoodoo
Voodoo
Lord of Light
Conjuring
Dylan
Mystery
Anything
Everything
Nothing
Science
The Big Sleep

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Open Yourself to the Wonder...

"What's Going On?"

"Who really cares?"

"Who is willing to try?"

Listening to the great Marvin Gaye this morning, his incandescent masterpiece:  "What's Going On?"

Yes, perfect soundtrack for another existential crisis. It comes around often around here. The crisis I mean. Could be once in awhile, once a week, once a day, once an hour, pretty much every blink of an eye. Why are we here? Where are we going?

I was in the heaviest of heavy conversations with a close friend last night. The conversation took a bleak, dark turn. The deepest yearning, the most essential questing, the darkest of emotions, the deepest of fears, the pain and suffering of being human exposed to the light of the moment.

There are some questions you just can't answer. There is some pain you just can't fix. You can only listen and acknowledge the reality of it. Embody it. These are things we all face. Life. Death. Loss. What do we believe? How can we feel safe? How do we make it in the world? How do we take it all in and move forward? How to find Grace, Love, Humility?

I always fall back on the cliches I've learned over my life. It's all mystery. A strange, bewildering adventure. What are my devices for survival?

Meditation. Be onto the next thing. Remember it's not all about you. Keep moving. Lean to the light. Listen to the Great Coach, Vince Lombardi: Run to Daylight. We don't need to solve life. It's not a riddle to figure out. We live it the best we can. Embody the moment. That is where life resides.

It's okay to not know. It's okay to ask questions. Find a quiet place. Find the quiet center inside of you. Open yourself to the wonder. That's basically all I got...

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Division.

You wake up. 

Brew the coffee and put on Steely Dan's "The Royal Scam." You then follow that album with Sturgill Simpson's latest "Sound and the Fury." You are thinking of a stacked deck, a rigged game.

You are thinking about division. You hope against hope that it isn't all just division. I mean, there are those who preach division, who whip us up, and take advantage of us as we all divide.

Young vs. Old.
Right vs. Left.
White vs. Black.
Man vs. Woman
Pessimist vs. Optimist.
City vs. Rural.
Stupid vs. Intelligent.
Past vs. Future.
Rich vs. Poor.
Have vs. Have Not.
Etc.

When pressed, you think that instead, everything is connected. That it is not all division. That division is just an imperfect way of seeing the world. Instead, you believe that basically we are all the same, we are all made of the same substance. You recall your one great epiphany: Everything is One. Everything is Everything.

But really, sometimes, you are not so sure. I mean, it's early. There's more coffee in the pot for the drinking. There are more records for the listening. Let's see what turns up today... 

Monday, October 21, 2019

Change.

Change. Ever-changing. Always changing. Change is always in the air. Change is the natural state of the Universe.

Can't hold on. Can't stop it. Even when we are motionless, our cells are changing, blood is moving, heart is beating. How many beats does one get? Stability is an illusion.

Change, we eat it, breathe it, embody it. One day you look up and everything has morphed, become something else.

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Mere Epiphany.

Patti Smith, r&r poet, speaks. This is from her latest book (see previous post), "The Year of the Monkey."

"Nothing is ever solved. Solving is an illusion. There are moments of spontaneous brightness, when the mind appears emancipated, but that is mere epiphany." - Patti Smith

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Dreams are Just Another Angle on Reality...


I am reading Patti Smith's new book "The Year of the Monkey". Maybe not so much reading it as luxuriating in it, savoring every word. Slow reading. It is a slim volume. Attention must be paid. It's worth it. I usually blast thru books, also, I usually start yawning when someone tells me about their dreams. Not this time. No yawning. The book is dreamy, beautiful. The dreams are as real as the "reality." Everything is grounded by old boots and fresh-brewed coffee.

Patti Smith, 70 years old, living like a vagabond, rambling around the USA, in conversation with inanimate objects; a life where reality and dream morph and infuse each other, "dreams are just another angle on reality." Patti is a poet, living poetically, you want to live in that world with her. It's pretty inspiring.

Friday, October 18, 2019

I Finally Won Over My Favorite Barista!

My Favorite Barista and I have had a running conversation about our President and his love for Vlad Putin and Russia, and all the scandals and skullduggery that flow from that relationship. I have maintained that this relationship will sink this Presidency, and, in fact, our current President will not only NOT be re-elected, but in fact, he will not even be the Republican Nominee in 2020. I have been predicting that our current President may not make it to Xmas, but, for sure, will be out of office by March 2020.

My Favorite Barista has maintained, that I'm nuts, delusional, crazy, and totally misreading the situation. While he is busy making my morning Latte he tells me that although, he hopes I'm right, he just doesn't see it, that I live in a little Blue Bubble.

It is true, I do live in a little Blue Bubble. But I don't think I'm crazy, I'm just projecting forward into the future, reading the tea leaves, and I strongly believe that the corruption of our current President is so complete, there is no way this can continue. How will it all end? I'm not sure yet, but I am sure it will end in a blaze of epic stupidity.

Yesterday, there was a change in the conversation. For the first time My Favorite Barista told me he thought I was correct, that yes, indeed, Impeachment is inevitable, and the sands are shifting quickly, right before our eyes, and well, maybe I really was right all along. It was a sort of enjoyable breakthrough. Smiles all around.

What does it all mean? My Favorite Barista and I are now in agreement. That's a good sign. Let's see how events unfold. They seem to be turbo-charged, and most of the news is not good for our Little Baby Man President. He is getting pretty whiny and needy. A man so puffed up with his own B.S. The deflation will be epic. I do believe. Stay tuned.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

"All roads with you lead to Putin." - Nancy Pelosi

A Heroine, a champion for our Democracy...

Yes, I love this photo of Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi confronting our Little Baby Man President. Notice all the old white guys. Seems no one else is willing to stand up to the petulant, child-bully.

Nancy Pelosi, speaks the truth: "All roads with you lead to Putin."



When I was a wee lad, a neighborhood bully - older, bigger, stronger, fatter - would push me around, knock me down, sit on my chest, make me eat dirt, etc. One day, surprisingly, I pushed back, got in a lucky punch, gave the bully a bloody nose. He never bothered me again. I always admire folks who stand up to bullies. Calling their bluff usually reveals a coward waiting to be called out. Nancy Pelosi, you ROCK!

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Helplessness Blues...

I had a rough night. Damn alarm ringing in the street. Alarming. Am I the only one who heard it? Was that ringing only in my head? I moved to another, quieter part of the house. Still, a rough sleep, not restful, crazy-ass dreams. People from my distant past kept popping up, unfinished business, slogging through menial tasks. It was all pretty exhausting.  This morning there is only one CD I can think of to put on the box: The Fleet Foxes, "Helplessness Blues." Acoustic instruments, beautiful harmony vocals. A beautiful helplessness. Exactly.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Ukraine is Russia. 2016 is 2020. Trump is Putin.

If you really want to track with the latest scandal, the impeachment inquiry, and the Ukraine extortion, you really, really need to be tuning into the Rachel Maddow Show. She really does have her finger on the pulse, she has a knack of conveying the story with verve and excitement, she really knows how to unroll the narrative. So many details, detours, back-stories, it is easy to lose the thread.

Rachel reminds us the Russia Hack story is the Ukraine Hack story. The election interference story in 2016 is the same story in 2020. Trump was doing Putin's bidding early in 2016, and he's still do it now.

We are getting to the nitty-gritty phase. I do think it's all gonna get quite captivating, and funny as hell too, except of course, at the center of it is an epic constitutional crisis. How to deal with a criminal-Russian-tied Mob Boss in the White House?

Keep your eyes peeled for that spiteful, lugubrious, walrus-moustache-wearing, right-wing flame-thrower John Bolton. This is gonna get quite fun and interesting:

"Bolton instructed aide to report Giuliani pressure campaign to White House lawyer. “I am not part of whatever drug deal Rudy and Mulvaney are cooking up,” Bolton said, according to testimony to House investigators."

Yes. Confusing. Remember: Ukraine is Russia. 2016 Election interference is 2020 Election interference. Corruption is Corruption. Biden is  the new Hilary Clinton. Disinformation = Disinformation. Disinformation Rules. Trump is Desperate. As Steve Bannon once said: "Trump doesn't know anything, and he doesn't give a fuck." Also keep in mind: Trump is Putin. Everything flows from Putin's lips to Trump's ears. Watch our President do Russia's bidding around the globe.

Ugly. Democracy in Crisis. It is the story of our times. Stay tuned. Be assured, Rachel has the latest.

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